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In 1866 when Jane was born they were at Ballachroan, another small group of farms near Kingussie, Here James had moved on and was Farm Manager, or Grieve.


In 1869 Isabella was born but her certificate is very hard to read, It appears to be Doune Rothiemurchus, but the first word is very hard to see. Eliza and Roberts certificates are both unreadable, however we know from the census that by 1871 James had risen to Grieve for the Doune Estate, and the family lived in the Griever House at The Doune.

So James had a rapid rise.

  • 1858 Farm Servant at Deshar

  • 1863 Assistant Grieve at Inverlaidnan

  • 1866 Grieve at Ballachroan

  • 1869 Under Manager at The Doune, very much larger estate.

  • 1871 Grieve for The Doune.

  • 1881 Grieve at the Doune.

He must have been an ambitious, single minded man.

Ummm....So what is a Grieve then ?

On a larger farm or an estate, the owner would have been above getting his hands dirty. He would have a  Farm Manager or Grieve, who oversaw the tenented farms, and who, together with his Laird, set the overall "agricultural stratagy" Rather like a company's Chief Execuitive.


The Grieve would live in "The Griever House", on a prosperous estate this would be a very substantial house, where his family would live a lifestyle far above that of mere servants. Like the Butler rules the household indoors, The Grieve represented the Laird and ruled outdoors.

In the 1871 Census, the Grieve for the huge Rothiemurchus Estate was our James Cameron with his wife Elspet, and their herd of children. James had certainly done well for himself, to go from being the son of a tenant farmer, to Grieve of a large estate in only about 12 years was some acheivement. His was a post with great responsibility, and answerable directly to the Laird himself.


In 1871 the Griever House was on the on the estate Home Farm, close to The Doune house itself. In 1881 they are living in a Griever House at Dalnavert, it is not possible to say exactly when they moved or why. However it may well just Have been for a better, larger house, in a nice little hamlet not far from the local school.

Dalnavert is a small hamlet about a mile from the North Eastern corner of Loch Inch. In a secluded setting it is situated on the road that branches off the main road from Aviemore to Cairngorm mountain. There is a right turn just past Coylumbridge, this road goes all the way to Kingussie, but on the much quieter, opposite side of the Spey Valley, away from the trains and the traffic on the new A9 etc. It is

a really pleasant peaceful spot, a good place to put down roots and bring up a family. This being just what James and Elspet got on with doing, They raised eight children between 1857 and 1880, sadly a further three died in infancy.


The family can be followed from parental homes in Deshar and Forregin, then via  Inverlaidnan  and  Ballachroan  to  the  Griever  House at Rothiemurchus,  and then to the Griever House at Dalnavert. This degree of mobility, with James moving on every 2-3 years, to a new and better job, was a new way of life. This must have seemed strange to those who knew them, the idea that James may have wanted to pursue a career, rather than just getting a job would have been a novel concept. In all likelihood, some people would have been wondering what was wrong with him that he could not know his place and settle into an appropriate job.

Inverlaidnan 1995


Jane Cameron BC.

Family is at Ballachroan James is Farm Manager ( Grieve)

Jane Cameron BC

Inverlaidnan 2012


The Doune in Winter.

What was the Griever House at The Doune Home Farm.

Around 1885 James accompanied his Big-nobship on a tour of various large estates in England to view and learn about the latest progress in agriculture. Or should I say "How to squeeze even more cash out of your estate".  One such estate was Ewhurst House, near Kingsclere in Hampshire.

It would seem that the owner of Ewhurst must have been impressed with James as he subsequently head-hunted him, so James Elspet and most of their family moved south from The Doune to Ewhurst, Well to the estate around "t'big owse" I doubt that his Lordship was impressed enough to offer to move out so that "Our Jimmy & his bairns" could move into the main house instead of his lordship !!  However on such a prestigious estate he would have been very well looked after.

When they made the move from Strathspey to leafy Hampshire their younger children went with them,  their eldest daughter Elsie / Elspet already had a son of her own, John and understandably would have doubtless have wanted to stay in the hope of possibly attracting a husband to go with her son. Though I would have thought this would have been no more unlikely in Hampshire as in Scotland, at least in Hampshire the entire world would not know about her somewhat sub-prime status on the marriage market. To continue the metaphor "Junk Bond" would probably better describe her status at the time !!

James would seem to have continued in his role until shortly before his death from heart disease in 1900.

At this point it would seem that things are going well for the family, James has risen from being little more than a farm-boy, to being Grieve for one of the largest and richest estates in Scotland. They have the sort of house that they could never have dreamed of, and social status to go with it. With their children ranging in age from James at 13 to baby Isobella at only 5 months, they had been at The Doune Griever House for over ten years and look settled. Then out of the blue, something must have happened, the entire family, apart from Elsie, just vanished, wherever they vanished to, they left no paper trail behind them that can be followed now over 130 years later.


However after the 1881 national census there is no further trace of them, they seem to just disappear from all records apart from Elsie ( Elspet). There are no marriage records, no records of offspring they appear in no census after 1881

and there are no death records.


So why ? How ? what happened to them? where did they go ? Presumably they emigrated but why when they were doing so well ?

In the previous account this was where I had to leave them, for all that I could find out they may have been abducted by aliens.

Then the benefits of my DNA analysis and the wide reach of "Ancestry" took over.  About 18 months ago I was contacted by the Great Grand daughter of James & Elspet's daughter Isabella, who filled me in on what had happened to the family.

James Cameron Death Certificate.

What is left of Ballachroan.

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